On a cold start to the year, average last freeze dates, and weekend rain

We introduced the MWN Lightning Round about a week ago to provide small bites of weather info that we think would interest our readers.  Today’s edition focuses on just how cold it’s been so far this year, when (typically) the coldest of the air is behind us, and a quick look ahead at an unsettled weekend.

A cold start to 2014

According to the National Weather Service in Memphis (WebFacebook, Twitter), 2014 is in the Top 10 for coldest starts to a year since 1900.  January averaged just over 5 degrees below normal and February averaged 4.4 degrees below normal, but the first couple of weeks of March have continued the trend, averaging nearly 6 degrees below normal through yesterday.  It’s no surprise then that we’re moving into the ranks of the coldest years on record, but I didn’t realize that it was Top 10 worthy!  Here’s the official word from the NWS:

Last freeze dates

Also according to the NWS, we’re fast approaching our usual “last freeze date” – or the date that (on average) we see our last 32 degree reading of the spring.  For Memphis, that date is March 19 (and according to the MWN Forecast, we may get close to freezing again on Monday/St. Patty’s Day, so that is not unusual).  Though the climate record is not nearly as long, the Agricenter’s average last freeze is March 28, so folks in outlying areas especially still have another couple of weeks when a freeze is not at all unusual.  Spring cold fronts often bring a shot of cold, dry Canadian air that can drop temperatures to 32.  The good thing about cold weather in March is that it typically doesn’t last long.

Weekend weather

As a perfect segue from the cold weather talk, this weekend’s rainy but mild weather will be followed by a brief cold spell. As an example of the typically-brief cold spells discussed above, the low Monday morning will be near freezing, but by Tuesday afternoon we’ll be well into the 60s again!  Until then, though, we’ll be dealing with a series of disturbances/low pressure systems that will track through the region.  While temperatures in the mid to upper 60s are expected this afternoon and tomorrow, rain (some of it occasionally heavy) will move over late Saturday into Sunday morning.

It appears we may get “dry-slotted” for part of Sunday as the drier area around the low moves overhead, but wrap-around precip will follow Sunday evening and overnight as strong northerly wind picks up and temperatures fall.  We expect all precipitation to be gone by the time the coldest air arrives early Monday morning, but Sunday night could be cool and wet, and definitely breezy!  Highs Sunday will be near 60, but could begin falling on that strong north wind by afternoon.  If you have weekend outdoor plans, get them done on Saturday morning or early afternoon when rain chances are lowest. Again, check out the MWN Forecast for details on this weekend’s forecast.

Multi-model average of temperatures through Monday morning. Forecast hours along the bottom, starting at 7am Friday (so 24 = 7am Saturday, etc.), temperature scale along the left. This average shows temps into the 40s by Sunday evening after remaining in the upper half of the 50s Saturday night.

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